What do our buildings say about us?
We shape and are shaped by the buildings we occupy. ‘’ We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.’’ Winston Churchill
We are used to reading the signs which tell us a lot about the occupiers of building, for Churches they can speak louder than the occupants and the notice board. The big question is, are these message a true reflection of the church family and its desired relationship with the community?
An understanding the pattern of Churchmanship and the theology which shaped our inherited buildings and ideas of what a church building should be is a starting point for understanding the way our buildings can be read. From this a clear understanding of the messages that should be conveyed can be incorporated into the development planning.
We are often too closely involved to fully read the messages which will include:
- Welcoming and open to all or do we maintain features which speak of privacy and a selective invitation to enter.
- Does our fear of vandalism and abuse create a fortified impresion.
- Do the levels of comfort in terms of the internal environment, the maintenance and the furnishings meet expectations. Falling short reflects poorly upon the nature of our faith.
- Do visitors and community users have to use the back door whilst worshipers use the Sunday entrance, does this reflect our understanding of Church and community engagement.
- Does the church family appear to be maintaining a museum to a faith rooted in the past. There are of course some buildings which speak of our journey and significant events and these needs to be shared and explained.
- Is a shabby and second hand look a true reflection of the nature of our faith.
- The message of the weekday closed door can speak much louder than our understanding of witness throughout the week.
Taking action to control the message is of significant importance and will greatly influence the longer-term effectiveness of the church family and its ability to deliver a kingdom focussed witness.